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   Studies in Contrasts - Volume 1 (4 of 13)

Volume 1

  1. Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
  2. The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
  3. Can We Learn from the Cults?
  4. Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
  5. Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
  6. Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
  7. Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
  8. Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
  9. Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
  10. Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
  11. Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
  12. Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
  13. Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?


Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?

"We must separate ourselves from the world, suffer patiently, and wait calmly for the return of Jesus Christ. Things are going to get worse before they get better through the second coming of Christ. Therefore, the darker the horizon, the more blessed our hope." This is essentially what the devout leader of a small congregation tells his people. So they wait expectantly, if somewhat passively, for the fulfillment of the promise.

"We can't afford to just wait! The best way for us to be ready for Christ's second coming is to be working hard and getting on with the challenge of rescuing others." This is what the pastor of a large congregation in the same city tells his people. And the church moves and jumps with activity!

Which of these pastors is right? Should we put the emphasis on a patient waiting attitude and a close walk with God, or should we emphasize church growth and working hard at evangelism as we anticipate Christ's return?

WE SHOULD BE WAITING PATIENTLY

  1. Jesus taught that watchfulness is an essential characteristic for us to have (Matt. 24:40-44, 25:1-13).
  2. James told us to wait patiently and submit cheerfully to life's hardships as we anticipate Christ's return (James 5:7-11).
  3. We must expect to suffer because Jesus said that we would be persecuted and hated as we wait for His return (John 15:18-25; 16:31-33).
  4. Paul warned Timothy that things would get worse and worse during the last days and that godly living would cause persecution. For this reason Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in faith, patience, love, and endurance (2 Tim. 3:10-14).
  5. We are to pray for those in authority over us so that we can live a quiet and peaceable life (1 Tim. 2:2).


WE SHOULD BE WORKING

  1. Jesus said that we are responsible for the development and use of the abilities and resources He has put in our care (Matt. 25:14-30).
  2. Paul praised the Christians in Thessalonica for their "work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope," and for their zealous effort to get out the good news of God's love (1 Thess. 1:2-8).
  3. Paul encouraged believers to make the most of their time and opportunity, indicating that we must do all we can in God's service during the timespan allotted to us (Eph. 5:14-16; Col. 4:5).

Resolution

Proper living in the expectation of Christ's return involves both waiting and working. We must wait patiently and be willing to endure the sufferings that are part of life, the corrections that come from the hand of God, and the persecution that comes upon us from those who do not know the Savior. But we must also work hard at developing a godly life and at winning people to Jesus Christ.

Reflection

People who place all the emphasis on waiting patiently can become selfishly wrapped up in themselves. Paul addressed this issue in his first letter to the Thessalonian church (1 Thess. 4:11, 12). Unfortunately, when he wrote to them again he had to rebuke them. They apparently had quit their jobs and were expecting others to provide their material needs as they spiritually prepared themselves for Christ's return (2 Thess. 3:6-15).

We must be realistic and acknowledge that we are not going to convert the world nor usher in the kingdom. And we must be patient in suffering, even if it means persecution. But we must also take hold of the resources God has given us through the Holy Spirit and develop Christian character, produce the fruit of the Spirit, and do what we can to influence others to trust in Jesus Christ.

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